Coronavirus – Changes To Our Services

You will notice changes to the way our services are organised during the Covid-19 pandemic. This is to make sure we can deliver care to our patients in the safest way possible.

How have GP services changed during the pandemic? What are we doing to keep you safe?

We are continuing to adapt and develop our services to meet your healthcare needs during the pandemic. It is important not to neglect your health and seek medical advice if you are worried. Symptoms of possible cancer need to be investigated promptly because delay could make treatment more difficult later on.

We are well set-up to help you and have processes in place to keep you safe:

  • Most consultations are now being conducted remotely by video or phone. We will only ask you to attend in person if a physical examination is essential for your care.
  • Footfall into the practice has been minimized – prescriptions, medical certificates and queries are being dealt with online. Non- essential services have been suspended.
  • Social- distancing measures have been introduced within the building including the waiting room with fewer seating available. Tables, toys and magazines have been removed.
  • Doctors and nurses are wearing PPE for all consultations. Patients will be offered a face mask and hand sanitizer on arrival.
  • Face to face consultations will be spaced through the day to minimize the number of patients in the building at any one time.
  • Patients with possible Coronavirus or their household contacts needing face to face assessment will be seen at a separate ‘Hot clinic’ in Leatherhead.
  • Online bookings for telephone and video consultations remain open. Our opening hours are currently 8:30am-6.00 pm while staff numbers on site are reduced with some working in the Hot Clinic. We are aiming to re-open Saturday mornings and longer open hours during the week as soon as we can.
  • We have set up a coronavirus support and advice page to help you find resources online during the pandemic. Please visit the Helplines and Support – COVID-19 page. 

What services will continue as normal?

  • GP and nurse appointments.
  • Prescription services.
  • Post Natal care – patients will need to book a telephone or video appointment first and after this will be invited down for a check-up.
  • Blood tests- for urgent medical problems and to monitor specific medications such as warfarin or methotrexate.
  • Cervical screening – for women who are on 6 or 12 month recall.

Why are these changes necessary?

We are adapting our services to the changes brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. Staff numbers are reduced because some are ill or needing to self-isolate.

We are also actively engaged in supporting the wider healthcare community in Epsom & Ewell. Doctors have been redeployed to work collectively with GPs to staff ‘hot sites’ at Leatherhead where we will be able to provide care for patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection. This will help us to make sure that GP practices across Epsom & Ewell remain safe for those without Covid-19 who need care.

How do I access care?

Our services are available Monday to Friday, 08:00 – 18:30.

Weekend and Bank holidays 08:00 – 20:00

  • Phone 01372 738373 for telephone or video assessment.
  • You will be directed to separate ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ clinics should a face to face review be needed.

Thank you for your understanding during this pandemic. We know these are stressful times and are here to support and care for you should the need arise. We very much look forward to resuming return to our normal working hours and services as soon as possible.

What are we doing to reduce the risk of infection to our patients?

Pre-screening of all patients before they attend the practice:

  • Patients with any respiratory symptoms (even if not classic coronavirus symptom) will be assessed by phone or video by a doctor.
  • Symptomatic patients who  need to be seen for face to face assessment will be asked to wait in their car until the clinican is ready for them.  They will then be directed to our side entrance.
  • Clinicians will be wearing PPE (personal protective equipment).

Enhanced infection control measures

  • Regular cleaning / disinfection  cycles in high risk areas.
  • Removal of magazines and toys from waiting area.
  • Widespread use of hand sanitizers.

Reducing patient footfall in the building

  • Reducing the need to collect prescriptions (sending electronically to the pharmacy) , letters and medical certificates (email instead).
  • Increased use of video and phone for routine consultations.

How can you help us at this time?

Practice staff will be working under increased pressure during the coronavirus epidemic.

  • For queries contact us by our website www.springstreetsurgery.nhs.uk rather than phone.
  • Do not request a medical certificate to cover time off work due to self- isolation. The Government have been clear to employers about this issue. If you must have a certificate contact  NHS 111 or go to https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/.
  • Do not ask us to complete holiday insurance  cancellation forms where you have decided not to travel due to coronavirus.
  • Keep up to date with latest Government advice at  www.gov.uk/covid-19-information-for-the-public

Thank you for your patience and understanding at this time. Processes are likely to evolve further over the next few weeks.

Frequently Asked Questions on Coronavirus ( Covid-19)

At Spring Street Surgery we are dedicated to providing the best healthcare to you and your family. We are currently in a situation of national crisis with unprecedented demand on the NHS. We are having to make changes to our services, sometimes at short notice to enable us to provide care to large numbers of unwell patients in addition to the usual work done in general practice.

We would ask that you remain aware of the very high level of demand on our services and contact us only if necessary. Hopefully this FAQ will be able to provide answers to queries you may have.

I think I have coronavirus, what do I do?

If you a have new continuous cough, or a fever over 37.8C, then the advice is that you should self-isolate for 7 days. You do not need to contact NHS 111 or the GP practice. If you develop worsening symptoms, especially significant breathing problems, or you are unable to get out of bed, then please contact us or NHS 111. We can arrange a video assessment and, if necessary, for you to be assessed in our coronavirus ‘hot site’.

If you live with anyone they will need to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they don’t have any symptoms.

Check NHS-111 for information about self-isolating www.nhs.uk/self-isolation-advice.

I only have mild symptoms, do I still need to self-isolate?

It is very important to follow the advice to self-isolate. Some people with the coronavirus (Covid-19) have minimal symptoms, but are at risk of spreading it to others who may become very unwell. It is essential that everyone is mindful of the need to reduce the risk of infecting others.

Can I be tested for coronavirus at my GP surgery?

There is no coronavirus testing at the GP or in the community. Currently testing is only carried out if you are unwell. Tests can be booked at www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus.

Why can’t I book a face to face appointment with the GP?

GP surgeries have been advised to conduct all appointments by video or telephone initially. This is to protect patients and staff alike from risk of infection. Reducing footfall of patients within the building is vital to reduce disease transmission and is part of the government strategy.  After your video or telephone appointment the doctor decides you need to be examined, this will be discussed with you and arrangements made.

Why is the receptionist asking me the reason I want to speak with the GP?

At this exceptionally busy time the GPs are needed to provide care to the sickest patients and are not going be as available as usual for routine matters. Many patients are used to requesting to speak with the GP even when other members of the team can deal with their query.

Our receptionists are there to ensure our systems run efficiently and that patients are getting the right advice from the right person.

Are GP services running as usual?

Some of the extra services we offer at Spring Street Surgery will be unavailable at this time.

There will also be a reduced phlebotomy service, catering only for urgent blood tests. This is to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, and to allow the practice to cope with the increased pressure the coronavirus pandemic has placed on the NHS.

Can I still discuss other medical problems with my GP?

Our GPs will be more than happy to discuss medical problems unrelated to coronavirus with you via video or telephone; however some investigations or referrals may not be currently available or may take longer than usual. This is because hospitals have suspended many routine outpatient services and non-urgent surgery during the pandemic.

Should I order extra supplies of my repeat medication?

Please resist the temptation to order extra supplies. There has been a surge in medication requests recently and this can lead to shortages nationwide. We have been informed that the supply chain for medicines is secure and there is no need to have extra stock at home. We will continue to issue your usual quantity unless there are exceptional circumstances.

I have a pre-existing medical problem, should I be self-isolating?

Patients who are deemed extremely vulnerable should have already been contacted with shielding advice and information. If you feel that you are extremely vulnerable and haven’t been contacted, please let us know. For further guidance and advice if you are vulnerable, please visit www.gov.uk/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

Is it safe to take ibuprofen if I think I have coronavirus?

Some reports in the media that have suggested ibuprofen is not safe to take if you suspect you have coronavirus. The commission for human medicines expert working group has now clarified that there is insufficient evidence to establish a link between ibuprofen or other NSAIDs. It would be preferable to treat symptoms first but ibuprofen can be used if needed.

Do I need to stop my blood pressure medications?

There have been reports that some blood pressure medications are unsafe to take if you suspect you have coronavirus. There is no clear evidence base for this currently and the advice is to continue to take your medications as prescribed. We will keep you updated should the advice change. Should you become unwell with high fever and are at risk of becoming dehydrated we would recommend temporarily stopping your blood pressure medication to protect your kidney function.

I don’t have asthma, but will an inhaler help?

Inhalers do not help if you don’t suffer from asthma or COPD. If you don’t usually use an inhaler, even if you’ve had one in the past, please do not request a prescription. It is important that inhalers remain available for those that need them most.

Can I still breastfeed if I’m feeling unwell?

There is no current evidence that breastfeeding your baby poses a risk of transmitting coronavirus. The virus is not thought to be present in milk. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any risks and it is safe to continue.

Can you provide me with a letter for my employer?

We are not able to provide letters for employers to confirm symptoms or the need to self-isolate. The NHS is facing unprecedented pressure at the moment and employers need to understand that such requests are not currently realistic. Government have been clear in their advice about this to employers. Instead you can print off an Isolation note from NHS-111 www.111.nhs.uk/isolation-note

I’ve had to cancel my holiday, can I have a letter for my insurance company?

Some insurance providers are continuing to request a letter from your GP to corroborate claims for holiday or travel cancellation. Due to high demands on our service, we regret that we are unable to provide letters or complete a cancellation form at this time.

I have heard that extremely vulnerable people should undertake shielding. What is it and who should consider it?

Shielding is a measure to protect the most vulnerable people in the community by minimising the interaction between them and others. It means that they should remain within their homes and minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household. This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus.

If you have received a letter from NHS England or you have a condition that makes you extremely vulnerable, then you need to:

  • Strictly avoid contact with anyone with symptoms of coronavirus – fever and or new and continuous cough.
  • Do not leave your home.
  • Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends or family.
  • Do not go out for leisure, shopping or travel. When arranging food and medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.
  • Keep in touch by phone or internet.

These restrictions are difficult, try to identify ways of staying in touch with others without face to face contact. This advice will be in place for at least 12 weeks from the day you receive the letter.

Extremely vulnerable patients include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients.
  • People with specific cancers – those who are undergoing active chemotherapy, radical radiotherapy for lung cancer, cancers of the blood such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma at any stage of treatment, people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer, targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors, people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants within the past 6 months or who as still taking immunosuppressant drugs.
  • People with severe respiratory conditions- all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma, severe COPD.
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infection such as sickle cell disease or SCID.
  • People on immunosuppression therapies likely to significantly increase the risk of infection.
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

For full information, please visit www.gov.uk/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.